The Rosett Report

Kofi: the Man, the Myth, the Mercedes and the Apartment

On his way out the door, Kofi Annan has signed new rules meant to curb corruption in UN procurement activities, which since the Feds began investigating last year have been sprouting indictments and guilty pleas pertaining to the abuse of enormous amounts of taxpayer money on Kofi’s watch. It’s thoughtful of Kofi to bequeath brand new rules to his successor, Ban Ki-moon, who takes charge Jan. 1. But this leaves the question of why Kofi, who worked in the UN system for more than four decades, and spent much of that time deep in the nitty-gritty of UN personnel and financial management, did not sign such a package of rules early in his decade as Secretary-General –back around the time that Kojo Annan in 1998 was making phone calls to staff in the UN procurement department.

For more on Kofi’s decade-long reign at the UN, my fellow Pajamas blogger, Victor Davis Hanson, has written a brilliant column on “Annanism,” over at NRO. This evening, I will be on the Wall Street Journal’s Editorial Report on Fox TV, talking with editorial-page editor Paul Gigot about Annan’s legacy. And The New York Sun carried an editorial Friday, illuminating further the curious nature of the Annan family involvement over many years with a low-rent taxpayer-subsidized New York apartment.

Kofi’s evasions and derelictions can fill volumes — and in matters such as the multi-billion dollar Oil-for-Food scandal, some of them have. But let’s focus for a moment on two things easy for anyone to relate to: the car, and the apartment. The departing Kofi, who has refused to disclose his UN financial “disclosure” form to the public, has stonewalled to the end on what became of Kojo’s Mercedes, or the accompanying UN paperwork for the car — which was shipped into Ghana at a hefty savings in 1998 under false use of Kofi’s name and the UN seal; Kofi has also refused to explain how his old taxpayer-subsidized apartment in New York ended up in use over the past decade by the family of his brother, Kobina Annan –who has served for years as Ghana’s ambassador to Morocco. At a farewell press conference, asked how the apartment was transferred to Kobina’s family, Kofi replied: “I know that my spokesman answered the thing.” That is flat-out false. His spokesman in multiple rounds of email refused to answer any factual questions whatsoever about “the thing.” At his press conference Kofi went on to say he does not hold a lease on the apartment –which is not the point. The questions for Kofi are: who did hold the lease, who does now, how did well-paid Kofi and his wife — who are forever lecturing the U.S. on obligations to those less fortunate — justify their use of a low-rent NY state-subsidized apartment right up until he became Secretary-General in 1997, and how did the transfer of use to the family of his brother take place? At Kofi’s farewell press conference, devoted in the main to adulation from quarters such as Voice of America and a Saudi news agency, there were at least two reporters Kofi’s spokesman managed not to call on: myself, and the reporter whose questions about the Mercedes Kofi deflected last year with personal insult –James Bone of the London Times. We were there this time, and we tried. Apparently, in Kofi’s legacy, there is no room on such matters for straight answers.